Romeo and Juliet is not a love story.

I start second semester off with Romeo and Juliet. The girls look forward to it all year, and their enthusiasm catapults us right into the middle of February. This has worked well for me in the past, however, my first period after the semester shake up has exactly 29 boys and one very demure girl. Even with my significant help (my colleague calls my teaching style “squirrel on crack.” I embrace that.) the enthusiasm was not going to carry us even as far as today.

When I announced to the class that we would be reading “Romeo and Juliet” they all groaned. So, I shot straighter than I ever have before. “Look, I don’t know who told you that Romeo and Juliet was some huge romantic love story. Really, it is a story about two people who really want to do it.” Starting the 2013 classroom year with my first period full of football playing boys cheering me was a lovely way to ring in the new year.

I don’t know if you remember Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy from your reading of it in the ninth grade, but when I described it to my first period, I wasn’t lying. Isn’t that how it always is? We remember things for how they are described and spoken about, and not for what they really are.

I have been reading through Isaiah. It is beautiful; the imagery is crisp. It is deep enough to dive straight in and never find the bottom. And it is totally confusing to me. There are so many times that I wish the Bible were clear and concise. But it isn’t. There are times that I want my God to answer me completely clearly, but he doesn’t, not always anyway. And yet this is my God, and the Bible is his word.

As I have started walking with my new found unashamed posture, I have found that there are things that I shape to the way I want them to be, rather than the way they are. I don’t even realize I am doing it. Romeo and Juliet is a great story. It is funny, and dramatic. It is tragic in the best way and the words are, of course, strung together in the most beautiful ways. But it isn’t a remarkably romantic love story. Presenting it as such turns it into a lackluster story, an unimpressive addition to an already full genre.

The Bible is not simply a list of instructions, my God is not a magic genie. If they are those things, then they are confusing, and only do their job about half the time. But if instead I am reading a love letter, a collection of writing that points to the heart of a wondrous and loving God, even if his ways are beyond me….well I suppose that is another story all together.


3 thoughts on “Romeo and Juliet is not a love story.

  1. That’s great. In one of my Shakespeare classes in college, instead of one of our papers we could do some kind of project instead. I decided to write out a lesson plan for Romeo and Juliet since at the time I was thinking about being a teacher. I never did become a teacher, but I still have that lesson plan around somewhere. It was fun to do.

  2. I am studying Genesis now and of course the beginning of the love letter is here – God’s merciful grace led Adam and Eve out of Eden, it led Abram away from his family of origin to create the nation of Israel out of which would come Jesus.

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